This year, skip the dreary I-have-no-idea-what-to-get-them standbys — scented candles, scarves, hats, mitts or gift cards.
An elephant! Here’s a lovely stuffed, embroidered one from India for $60. My mom has owned one of these for many years and he’s a cheery addition to the household.
Or, why not adopt an orphaned elephant in Africa?
For the older music-lover in your life — perhaps someone in their 70s or beyond — how about this mix of classics from Kern, Berlin and others, played by the inimitable Stephane Grapelli?
For a stylish woman who likes unusual jewelry, these shield-shaped earrings from Vivre are exquisite: yes, a splurge at $280.
If you know and love Joni Mitchell (fellow Canadian!), you’ll know that Hejira, from 1976, is considered one of her best albums ever. I adore it.
This elegant women’s silk jacket — rich purple reversible to brown. I own one of these, (in burgundy) and love having two jackets for the price of one.
A travel shaving kit for the man on the go: $50, smells of sandalwood. Yum!
A mini food-processor, in bright tangerine, great for soups, smoothies: $39.95. I use mine all the time.
For all you old-schoolers who still wear a watch, here’s a simple, all-black field watch from LLBean; $129. A nice unisex gift for all ages.
I dare you to resist this insanely great-smelling (citrus) French soap, Hesperides by Fresh. One bar lasts for a month. A friend gave it to me and I now love it; $14.
For a woman with pierced ears, these tiny “diamond” studded pyramids would be perfect with everything from jeans to her favorite LBD; $28.
Or these really comfortable lug-sole black patent leather loafers. Comfy, water-resistant; $99. I own them and love them!
This Turkish seasoning is the bomb! Rub it into chicken or pork. Add it to Greek yogurt. A big $3.49.
How about a meter of this amazing Liberty print cotton? Red, yellow and blue ladders designed by an award-winning film and fashion designer. From my favorite London shop, Liberty. 21 pounds; $38.85.
From one of my favorite old-school Manhattan shops, founded in 1907, Porto Rico Coffee and Tea, a pound of chocolate cinnamon coffee; $9.95. Their teas are great as well.
Here’s one of my favorite lingerie stores, in Canada, La Senza. Two of these floral push-up bras for $39.50. Deal!
I love this tight close-up color photograph of a cowboy’s tools of the trade, by a Wyoming female photographer on Etsy; $20. If you haven’t yet explored Etsy, get on over there! It’s a huge on-line marketplace of things all made by creative individuals worldwide. (I’ll be opening my site there in 2012.)
This home goods store in Alexandria, Virginia has a fun, retro-look mantel clock in red. It would add a nice pop of color and a small, great style hit; $118.
A fresh set of towels, in rich and unusual earthy stripes: rust, gray, cream: $35-45.
These astonishing pewter candlesticks -- with a geranium leaf motif. Designed by a San Francisco artist, I have one by my bed and love looking at it every day.
Here are five global charities endorsed by international columnist Nick Kristof of The New York Times.
If your giftee has an Iphone 4, here’s a leather Iphone case; $38.
Or a man’s tattersall shirt in a nice weathered gray; $69.50.
Here’s a blog post with ten gorgeously-wrapped foods, (cake, chocolate, marzipan) you can order on-line.
You could also buy a copy, e-book or hardcover, of my own memoir, “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail”, which received terrific reviews from People, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly and Marie-Claire. It tells the story of working in a low-wage job, and is filled with useful, practical lessons for employees, managers and shoppers alike. You can read two chapters for free here.
I hope, wherever you shop and whatever you buy, you give as much business as you possibly can to your local retailers, the men and women who give our cities and towns such character and style.
Be sure to say a genuine thank you!!! to the weary associates helping you. Their feet are killing them, they’re making minimum wage and no commission and working crazy-long hours. (Give the best ones a candy cane! Then tell their manager how helpful they were. That way they might get hired on after the holidays.)
Be the best Santa ever!